by Ian Marshall, Editor
Top seeds, the men’s outfit comprising Hugo Calderano, Vitor Ishiy and Gustavo Tsuboi with Francisco Arado, the coach sitting courtside alongside Eric Jouti, brought the three day tournament to a close; they recorded a 3-2 win against most worthy opponents, the no.2 seeds, the Argentine trio comprising Gaston Alto, Horacio Cifuentes and Pablo Tabachnik.
The player to shine for Argentina was Horacio Cifuentes. In the opening match of the fixture he partnered Gaston Alto to doubles success against Vitor Ishiy and Gustavo Tsuboi (11-8, 16-18, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6), before in the third match of the engagement overcoming Gustavo Tsuboi (11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-9).
However, Hugo Calderano, the ace card, accounted for Pablo Tabachnik in the second engagement (11-7, 11-4, 11-7) and Gaston Alto in the fourth (11-3, 11-7, 12-10); thus he set the scene for Vitor Ishiy to book the Tokyo place. He responded, he beat Pablo Tabachnik in straight games (11-6, 11-4, 11-6).
“We had to fight hard against Argentina; they have a very competitive team. It gives great satisfaction to have won; of course we are very happy.” Francisco Arado
“I knew it would be a very difficult match. Argentina has strong and experienced players. Both teams gave a great show. Calderano gave us two very important wins; when I had to play the last match I didn’t hesitate, I was prepared and gave my best.” Vitor Ishiy
“It is a very satisfying feeling to have qualified for Tokyo 2020 and I’m very happy that our team has managed to achieve the goal. Argentina proved very difficult opponents; they demanded the best from our team; being favorites gave us some pressure in this final match but we knew how to control things and move forward. Argentina played well, they are always tough opponents. We’re going to train hard to reach our best level in Tokyo; this time I aim to win a medal.” Hugo Calderano
“It is a moment of great happiness for our team. I have no voice left from shouting when at the table and on the bench encouraging my teammates. Against Argentina we always have very tough matches; today was no exception. A place in the Olympics is not obtained every day. Now we have to enjoy and celebrate the victory.” Gustavo Tsuboi
Success for the Brazilian men, in the immediately preceding contest it had been the same for their female counterparts. Totally focused, directed by coach Hugo Hoyama, the trio of Caroline Kumahara, Bruna Takahashi and Jessica Yamada, the no.2 seeds, recorded a 3-0 win in opposition to the top seeded Puerto Rican outfit formed by Adriana Diaz, Melanie Diaz and Daniely Rios.
Caroline Kumahara and Jessica Yamada gave Brazil the ideal start by beating Melanie Diaz and Daniely Rios (12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8); Bruna Takahashi followed suit by overcoming Adriana Diaz (7-11, 12-10, 11-1, 11-8). Brazil in the ascendancy, Caroline Kumahara concluded matters. She accounted for a brave Melanie Diaz in four games (7-11, 12-10, 11-1, 11-9).
“It was a spectacular result. We’ve trained hard and we were very confident of getting the win. Puerto Rico is a very strong rival but we feel we deserved the qualification. We knew it would be a very difficult match. We expected a closer result. We’re surprised we won 3-0 which is good for us; the important fact is we played we have qualified.” Hugo Hoyama
“It has been an incredible experience. Despite winning 3-0, the matches have been very hard and today was no exception. We wanted to win and that was always reflected on the table. There was total support from everyone during all the matches and that made a difference. During my career I have always tried to do my best, to have gained the classification really is a dream come true. I’m the oldest in the team and it is a great feeling to have achieved it. I know that my teammates also gave their best effort to enable me to fulfill this dream together and live this great experience. Tokyo 2020 will undoubtedly be a very strong tournament with strong rivals that we will have to analyse.” Jessica Yamada
“Winning the last match is always special; we achieved thanks to teamwork. We all prepared on our own and together, we have always been in constant communication and training hard. Tokyo 2020 is a very big tournament and one of the most important worldwide. It will be a great opportunity to demonstrate our ability and show our dedication” Caroline Kumahara
“The match was very difficult; I had thought it would be very different, probably 3-2 in our favour. However we won 3-0, much better than expected. We are going to train really hard for the Olympics, our goal is to get a medal in Tokyo and we are going to prepare.. Now we have to prepare for the Team World Cup that will also be in Japan” Bruna Takahashi
Third and fourth places
The top two places decided; earlier in the day third and fourth positions had been determined; in both the men’s and women’s events a 3-0 score-line in favour of Chile against Peru was recorded.
In the women’s contest, Valentina Rios and Paulina Vega secured the doubles in opposition to Ana Aragon and Mariagrazia La Torre (11-5, 11-2, 12-10). Daniela Ortega extended the lead by overcoming Maria Maldonado (11-9, 11-7, 11-6), Paulina Vega defeated Ana Aragon (11-8, 11-4, 11-6) to end matters.
“I noticed that Paulina had more difficulty playing against my backhand; that’s why I was constantly making changes. It has been a very good tournament, the level has been quite high. We have learnt a lot, it has been a beautiful experience. We can now apply the experience we have gained for tournaments next year.” Ana Aragon
“The tournament has been quite hard, we knew that there would be very strong rivals. Puerto Rico and Brazil are the current Pan American champions and runners up. I had a very pleasant time. Against Puerto Rico we had a hard fought match in the doubles and against Brazil we could have had better luck in the doubles; that would have helped in the singles matches. I’m happy because we had the opportunity to play against them and we had the possibility of winning. The Olympic dream remains intact. I return to Spain to play in the national league. In March we will prepare for the individual and doubles Olympic qualification to be held in Cuba.” Paulina Vega
Likewise in the men’s event, Chile asserted authority but there was more than a bright light for Peru. In the concluding match of the fixture, the ice cool Felipe Duffoo, a young man who rarely shows a hint of emotion, came within a whisker of beating Gustavo Gomez. He experienced defeat by the narrowest of margins in the deciding fifth game (6-11, 11-1, 13-11, 4-11, 11-9).
Similarly, in the first match, the doubles, Nicolas Burgos and Gustavo Gomez had been extended the full five games by Jhon Loli and Felipe Duffoo (11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6); rather more comfortably Manuel Moya had overcome Rodrigo Hidalgo (11-9, 11-7, 11-8).
“We won the first two games in the doubles but then they responded and matched us point for point. We had to press harder in the fifth game. We knew that this tournament was going to be very difficult. Argentina and Brazil have a high level, the important thing is that we tried in a good way. We will continue working to be able to give gain classification for Chile in the future.” Nicolas Burgos
“The result was not as expected, we were hoping to win. It was a tense match with tight results. I stopped yelling every point to have more time to think about the tactics I could apply. At the end of November we have the World Junior Championships; without a doubt this qualification has been a great preparation, we have faced excellent rivals.” Felipe Duffoo
Three days of play concluded, Brazil supreme; in Lima they proved a step ahead of the field but perhaps just one step.